The purpose of the cover letter is a tailored introduction to yourself as a professional and as a person. Whether working in an office environment or remotely, the essential content of the cover letter should remain the same, however when applying for a remote position you may want to take note of the following;
Experience of remote working or transferable experiences
Take care to highlight your experience of remote working. Hirers are looking for experience of working in comparable environments as much as the evidence of your skills and qualifications. You may be the most brilliant SuccessFactors consultant out there but if you are hopeless at working remotely you’re no good for the position! In the first paragraph of your cover letter make it clear that you have worked remotely and have a good understanding of the implications. If you haven’t worked remotely before you need to highlight comparable experience. Have you worked in an office environment but with team members who are remote workers? Have you worked from home for a number of days a week? Have you co-ordinated with international teams where video conferencing or team management platforms have been required? Think carefully about how to demonstrate that remote working is something you understand and is something you can embrace.
Communication skills & teamwork
I’ve written about communication for remote workers before and at length, because it’s the main bugbear of clients. More than any other factor a doubt regarding a candidate’s communication skills has been the reason for rejection. For remote workers it’s crucial that applicants show full commitment to communications and actively engaging with the team. Dispel the suspicion of remote workers being anti-social techies by emphasising your willingness to work with a team, to engage, to consult and to really integrate yourself. Although the “work well alone and as part of a team” is the biggest cover letter cliché out there, actually it’s crucial for remote workers! Your cover letter should convey personality and hints at the sociable side of your character (team sports, volunteering, club member?) should give the reader a positive view of your team working abilities.
Perfect English (or other language!)
One of the greatest fears of an employer hiring internationally is that language will be a barrier. You may have scored highly in language exams but if you intend to work in a second language you need to be aware of the potential difficulties. The cover letter is the perfect way of demonstrating your perfect language skills as well as your skills at manoeuvring through cultural nuances. For example, generally in the US applicants are much more exuberant in celebrating their skills, whereas in the UK a more quiet confidence is the norm. You must adopt a formal tone and avoid jargon and colloquial phrases. If there are any spelling or grammatical mistakes in your cover letter, alarm bells will ring, whether or not writing is a key component of the role. Ask someone to check thoroughly as it’s much easier to spot errors in the work of others. Don’t give hirers the excuse to dismiss your application – check, check and check again!